Incorrect Username, Email, or Password
A painting of precisely drawn forms on a gray, white, and black background.

The painting shows an overlapping group of a circle and five squares positioned off-center near the bottom edge of the painting. The circle is off-white and appears translucent as do the squares in yellow, blue and white, the brown and black squares are solid. Four thin black lines intersect the circle and squares crossing to form the letter x in three places. The upper left of the picture plane is gray and is sharply divided on a diagonal from the off-white right side. A black triangle fills the lower left and slopes down the bottom right corner.

Gallery Text

Moholy-Nagy’s tenure at the Bauhaus, where he led the school’s preliminary course and metal workshop from 1923 to 1928, is most strongly associated with his promotion of technology and industrial materials as well as his innovative work with photography. Yet painting remained central to his practice, serving as an important means of advancing his investigation of light, transparency, and abstraction and their potential to produce new forms of visual experience. In this work he employs a constructivist vocabulary of geometric shapes and bold colors to describe a delicate, floating structure. His repetition and distortion of translucent rectangular forms suggest three-dimensional space as well as movement. Moholy further complicates and animates these relationships through contrasting surface effects, ranging from enamel-like gloss to rougher textures. He sometimes used the letters “A” or “Z” in his titles to denote a painting on canvas as opposed to one on a metal or synthetic support.

Identification and Creation

Object Number
László Moholy-Nagy, American (Bacsborsod, Hungary 1895 - 1946 Chicago, Ill., USA)
A 18
Work Type
Persistent Link


Level 1, Room 1520, Modern and Contemporary Art, Art in Germany Between the Wars
View this object's location on our interactive map

Physical Descriptions

Oil on canvas
irregular: 95 x 75.5 cm (37 3/8 x 29 3/4 in.)
frame: 113.7 x 93.3 x 10.8 cm (44 3/4 x 36 3/4 x 4 1/4 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
Sibyl Moholy-Nagy, sold; to Busch-Reisinger Museum, 1950.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Busch-Reisinger Museum, Museum Purchase
Accession Year
Object Number
Modern and Contemporary Art

The Harvard Art Museums encourage the use of images found on this website for personal, noncommercial use, including educational and scholarly purposes. To request a higher resolution file of this image, please submit an online request.

Publication History

  • Plus by minus: Today's Half-Century, exh. cat., Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, NY, 1968), n.p., cat. no. 126
  • Charles Werner Haxthausen, The Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard University, Abbeville Press (New York, NY, 1980), p. 27, repr.
  • Peter Nisbet and Emilie Norris, Busch-Reisinger Museum: History and Holdings, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1991), p. 61, ill.
  • Masterpieces of world art : Fogg Art Museum, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Busch-Reisinger Museum, 1997
  • Leah Dickerman and Barry Bergdoll, Bauhaus 1919-1933: Workshops for Modernity, exh. cat., ed. David Frankel, The Museum of Modern Art (New York, 2009), cat. no. 287, p. 221, color repr.
  • Laura Muir, Object Lessons: The Bauhaus and Harvard, Harvard Art Museums (Cambridge, 2021), pp. 264, 279, plate 29, ill. (color)

Exhibition History

  • Plus by Minus: Today's Half-Century, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, 03/03/1968 - 04/14/1968
  • From Werkbund to Bauhaus: Art and Design in Germany 1900-1934, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 05/12/1980 - 04/26/1980
  • Works from the 20th Century Collection of the Busch-Reisinger, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 06/15/1980 - 09/01/1980; Wildenstein Gallery, New York, New York, 09/23/1980 - 10/24/1980
  • 20th-Century Works on Paper from the Permanent Collection, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 09/07/1981 - 11/11/1981
  • 19th- and 20th-Century Works on Paper from the Permanent Collection, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 02/08/1982
  • Art of the Weimar Era, Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, 04/05/1982 - 05/22/1982
  • Deutsche Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts aus dem Busch-Reisinger Museum, Stadtische Galerie im Stadelschen Kunstinstitut, Frankfurt, 10/23/1982 - 01/16/1983; Bauhaus-Archiv, Berlin 30, 02/10/1983 - 04/17/1983; Kunstmuseum Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, 05/08/1983 - 06/26/1983
  • Modern Art at Harvard, Bunkamura Museum of Art, Tokyo, 07/31/1999 - 09/26/1999; Takamatsu City Museum of Art, Kagawa, 10/09/1999 - 11/14/1999; Matsuzakaya Art Museum, Nagoya, 12/02/1999 - 12/27/1999; Oita City Museum, Oita, 01/06/2000 - 02/06/2000; Museum of Modern Art, Ibaraki, Ibaraki, 02/11/2000 - 03/26/2000
  • Modell Bauhaus, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin-Kreuzberg, 07/22/2009 - 10/04/2009
  • Bauhaus 1919-1933: Workshops for Modernity, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 11/08/2009 - 01/25/2010
  • 32Q: 1520 Art in Germany Between the Wars (Interwar and Bauhaus), Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 12/10/2018; Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 08/05/2019 - 01/01/2050
  • The Bauhaus and Harvard, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 02/08/2019 - 07/28/2019

Subjects and Contexts

  • The Bauhaus

Verification Level

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Modern and Contemporary Art at